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Team Member Jensine Fraser Race Report : Tri for a Cure!

Team Member - Jensine Fraser TrI FOR A CURE RACE REPORT

(Coach: Angela Naeth iracelikeagirl@gmail.com)

3 Things I did well
1. let go of fear
2. stayed present in each part of the race
3. let go of expectations

1 to improve one
1. TRANSITIONS

Where to begin. This race holds a special place in my heart and it’s bitter sweet. The Maine Tri for a Cure is the largest women’s only triathlon in the state of Maine. I say women’s as it used to be the largest but now Ironman Maine is the largest. It is also the largest fundraisers in the state. This was my first triathlon. I signed up for this race during a turning point in my life. I knew I was going to be getting a divorce. I had just moved back from Hong Kong a few month prior to signing up. This race is so popular that it is a lottery system to get in. It also raises money for the Maine Cancer Foundation. I didn’t know it then - but this race would change my life. This would be the day that I would realize that I am stronger than I think I am. That with pain comes healing and with healing comes strength. Little did I know that after that day I would be tacking the 70.3 distance some 5 years later and be instantly hooked. This race report isn’t about that race or that one day. 

This race is bittersweet because while I love this race, as an experienced triathlete it can be very frustrating and I have to keep telling myself that while I know what I’m doing - these women are out here starting the sport for the very first time. The race isn’t all first timers. It is made up of cancer survivors, women battling cancer, women who have been through a lot of pain, and new and veteran triathletes. This race has also given me a lot of heartache and love.

There are around 2,000 women swimming, biking and running. 

You know what happened a few days before the race so I’ll start on race morning.

I woke up as normal. This race is very close to home and it wasn’t starting until 8 so I was able to wake up at normal time and go through my normal routine. I wasn’t feeling anything. There were no nerves and no excitement either. I was a little disheartened as I had found out my wave and was slightly nervous. The first wave would be cancer survivors, the second wave would be the winners circle (anyone who has place top 3 in age group, I have also placed 4 or lower), followed by novice and 60+ and down age groups from there. I gave myself a pep talk and let it go. I relaxed and went out with the attitude of “let’s go all out and see what happens.” After all, this is all fun. I love this sport. I am in love with this sport and this sport is all about the uncontrollable and nothing is linear. 
I threw on my IRLAG suit. My suit was telling me that it is time to stop fueling off donuts :) 

My friend Emma came to pick me up. This was her second time in this race and her second triathlon. I couldn’t race last year because it was on the same day as Boston. She was feeling a bit emotional. This race pulls on some heart strings. She had the IRLAG playlist pumping and we casually had conversation as we made our way to transition. 

The sun was shining and it was warm for 6:30am. I was feeling grateful. We get to transition and it was the same as usual. Set up my spot, visit the bike tent to pump my tires. There isn’t any nervous energy like in Ironman. There is but it’s more of a love energy than Type A. 

I really wanted to get in a swim warmup. I haven’t been in open water and I’m not phased by it but I knew I needed to feel how cold it was. We set up our mini transition. You are required to run up to first transition in covered shoes so there are spots along the swim exit to put your shoes on. Emma and I got our wetsuits on and helped calm a few race energy nerves of the women around us. My wetsuit was also telling me to lay off the donuts.

We made our way into the water. The volunteers wished us luck and helped zip us up. I let my body drop in to the water and I waded a bit before doing some fist drills. The water was cold but after a few minutes I was ok with it. I looked up at the crowd and my heart exploded with joy. This race also attracts so many spectators it’s crazy. 

Athletes were advised to get out of the water and pull our wetsuits halfway down for opening ceremony until we were about 5 minutes from our wave start. My wave wasn’t until 8:50 and it was hot so I kind of pulled it down but kept my arms in. 

Opening ceremonies began. The event itself had raised 2 million dollars! There is also a survivor photo. Cue waterworks. You see these amazing women of all ages who have survived cancer all in this photo and it’s so emotional. I don’t typically cry but this was ugly crying. 

They lined up at the start and off they went. The cheers were insane. I drank my redbull and just felt so much peace. 

My wave lined up. We have to go down these stone steps on the way down to the water. We all looked at each other and chanted “I AM AN AMAZING SWIMMER!!!” I positioned myself to the front and to the left of the buoy since I veer right. 
Eric Oberg sounded the horn and off we went. 

I just went for it, as hard as I could. I must have swam over people as I was beelining to the first buoy. The women in this race are so nice. They kick you - they stop and apologize. These other women - talking about what they had for breakfast. 

Turned the first buoy and I was in the back of the pack in the wave before me. Not only could I tell from the caps but also because the back of each pack is doing the breaststroke, the backstroke, sidestroke and strokes I haven’t even heard of!  I just laughed it off and kept telling them to keep going. The swim went by so fast. I was just pumping away focusing on rhythm and a high stroke cadence. I was going hard and hit a women. She looked at me - stopped - and yelled - GO GET EM!!! 
I kept going until my hands felt the sand beneath and I stumbled out of the water.  A kind volunteer helped me unzip and I made my way to the strippers. Now I don’t usually use the strippers but I was so dizzy coming out the water that I took anything I could get. Wetsuit off and ran to my shoes in a drunkly sort of way. I was just getting warmed up! Threw on my shoes, threw my wetsuit around my neck and it was a sprint to transition. This isn’t a short jog either. It’s a decent 1/3 of a mile so the first transition takes a good 3-5 minutes. As I was running up the hill I spotted Heather Geoghan. She screamed and I was smiling ear to ear. 

Found Jolene, pulled my bike shoes on and helmet and ran to the bike mount line. I need some help here. My transitions are too long. They are so long that I could probably sit and eat a sandwich. 

Hopped on my bike. I had my watch on but I didn’t mount it to my bike - the goal was to let loose and go all out so I didn’t want to get caught in metrics. I wanted my mind totally free with a few glances here and there to ensure I was pushing. I made my way out. There are a couple speed bumps to get over and you have to be careful of those around you that have never raced. The first 5 miles was just laying on my pedals and hammering it out. It was pass after pass after pass. I glared at my watch and my HR was at 178 - I didn’t even hesitate. I was doing my job. 

I didn’t even know the time of my first 5 mile split. It was just all about going hard. I was yelling a good part of the way for women to get to their right. There were a few moments where I had to slow down a bit because I couldn’t make the pass because women were still on the left and the roads weren’t closed so there were cars to think about. I hammered the hills and just went. 

Once I passed everyone I had about 5 miles where I had some space to just lay it down without worry. This is my fastest split - under 14 minutes! Holy shit! I had never done that - ever! I kept going and going. Women I know were cheering me on as I passed them. I just kept going. I had gatorade in my bottle and sipped when I could. I knew I needed to get fluids because of the heat. My disc wheel was incredible - it sounds like an airplane. 

I let it rip downhill and practiced hammering as I crested each hill like you taught at camp. I had no fear. There was no time where I thought about my fall or injury - I just mentally was ALL IN. Time didn’t matter. This race was all about  feeling.  

The last 5 miles were a little rough. I almost completely bounded off my bike because of some gravel but I controlled and kept going. It was also close to the end where it gets a little congested with spectators ( I imagine that is what the Tour du France feels like.) The signs were emotional. “I’m in my last treatment of chemo” read one, “You saved me” Said another. Hard not to get choked up. 

I got in to transition and had a pretty good idea of where I was based on the names coming in behind me. It helps to know a lot of people racing :)
I changed as fast as I could - and headed out to the run course. My legs felt like lead. At first I was a little bummed because I just couldn’t get my legs to turnover or go the speed my mind was going. At the same time I knew I nailed the bike course so goal achieved. I focused on finding my rhythm until a volunteer yelled “ YOU SAVED MY MOM.” Cue water works again. I couldn’t stop crying as I ran. The heat was coming on strong and I just ran. I was hot but I used those thoughts out of my mind and just focused on my run. My first mile came at 9 minutes - while not super thrilled I moved forward and pushed a bit harder grabbing Gatorade and water at each aid station. I was dumping cups on myself and letting the little kids just throw water at me. I didn’t keep pace on my watch - just HR. I barely looked at it. I was check now and than to see if my perceived effort matched by HR and boy it did!

I got to the last mile and I just went for it as best as I could. I spotted someone I could pace from so I just followed. It was a sprint to the finish and tears again at the finish line. I had no idea what the end result would be but I didn’t care. IT was all about being in the moment and giving it all I could. 

I’ve been going back and forth about the race - was this ALL OUT?  I’m 95% sure it was but there is always a small piece of me that says I could have gone harder. I guess that is the fire inside me and the drive to keep getting better. 

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that I had placed 3rd! I have always been so close in this race but never on a podium. Reality is - I have never stepped foot on the podium. It’s my biggest mental challenge. I want the podium so bad. I want to be one of the “fast” ones. It’s a constant struggle as I try not to compare myself but at the same time the desire is so strong. I talk about potential a lot and the want and I’m so hungry for it. I’m not giving up getting there. You see all these women on the team reaching the podium and there is a slight jealousy. Jealousy is not the right word but the want is so strong. The best is yet to come. It’s all about the small gains that lead to the big ones and lots of patience. 

I’m so happy and grateful that I have you by my side. When I’m in the dark places I think of your drive, tenacity, persistance. I know not everything is rosy all the time but you keep it so real, the good and the bad. 

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